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Cutting and Machining Phenolic Countertops

Tips on bit choice and speeds for working with phenolic sheet materials. October 12, 2007

I would like to start producing 5/8" phenolic tops for a customer. I would like to cut them on our Holzma panel saw. What kind of wear should I expect on a quality set of blades? I next want to machine them on our CNC. I have diamond tooling to format the contour. I need to have a bullnose edge profile on these tops. Should I look for a tool with carbide inserts or solid three flute bits do this? What should I run for tool speed and feed rates to get a clean finished edge? I appreciate your input.

Forum Responses
(Laminate and Solid Surfacing)
From contributor T:
I used to work at a place where we did phenolic cabs and tops. It cuts slower and dulls tooling quicker, but it cuts. Routs good with a hand router. As far as the CNC, that's another story. We did it, but it was a hard road and there is no good speed or tooling. Too fast and you simply break the tool; slow it down and you're sending smoke signals. This was on a p2p.

From contributor G:
There are a variety of tools you can use. A PCD bullnose cutter would be the best type of tool for this material. Sizing, I suggest a slow helix ruffer.

From contributor S:
Cut oversize on your Holzma and machine to shape on your CNC. Do not try using your scoring saw unless you have closely fitted blades. You will find that the scoring saw does not have enough power to cut deep into the material. The most important part of cutting phenolic is to keep the cutters making chips and not dust. One of the things I have found is to sometimes slow the RPMs down to make a better chip. That way the heat will go with the chip. Tool life gets improved many times, too. We cut 1" phenolic with a 1/2" bit, in one pass.